Sometimes old grief can come back afresh at unexpected times. Earlier this year, I found myself grieving old losses. It surprised me to arrive at such a point of grief again – even after being disabled from a chronic illness for thirteen years.
For several weeks, I struggled with weariness in the long, chronic-illness battle, and I grieved the life that had been. I grieved the loss of my previous strength and energy, and I grieved the loss of the ability to serve my family physically in the ways I wished I could. Once again, I felt the raw pain of it all.
During those few weeks of pain and grief, one thing that encouraged me very much were these words from John Piper: “Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you” (Embrace the Life God Has Given You).
I felt less alone when I heard his words about past losses coming back again as fresh grief. My time of grief soon passed, and I went back to loving and embracing the life I have been given, limitations and all. But for a time, it was helpful for me to pause, recognize the losses, and take time to grieve.
I know that I am not alone in my grief regarding disability. My friend, Sarah, has a daughter with severe, nonverbal autism, and she shared with me that “‘what we never had’ is often the kind of grief special needs parents feel about their kids.” Another part of her grief involves the future for her precious daughter. Who will love and take care of her vulnerable child after she is no longer here to care for her daughter?
Probably all of us who are affected by disability will feel grief at various points in our lives. If you have a disability, or a family member with a disability, this is likely something you have been through too.
When those times of sadness come, don’t be afraid to feel the pain. Grieve the losses and weep. Then, as John Piper says, “wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you.”
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5b, ESV).
What losses have you faced in life? Do you find that old grief comes back at times? How do you grieve and then move on to embrace the life you have?
Rachel Lundy is a wife and mother of two children. She lives with dysautonomia, a condition that leaves her mostly homebound. She writes at Cranberry Tea Time about life with a chronic illness and the hope and joy she has in Christ.